Thursday, June 30, 2011

"Loving" Baby's Skin

Perhaps this post is a bit late in the game this summer, since it seems most mommy bloggers have at least mentioned the topic already, but let's talk for a moment about sunscreen.  Personally, I have mixed feelings on the matter.  I believe we all need our sunshine, for the vitamin boost and the mood boost, but our depleting ozone layer and the resulting onslaught of UV rays does give me pause.  Particularly when it comes to Jem's uber sensitive skin.

The other thing that gives me pause is the sheer number of toxic chemicals in most sunscreens, especially those marketed for kids. Probable carcinogens and endocrine disruptors? No thank you. Of course I don't want to increase his risk of skin cancer either, or even just a painful little sunburn. And in this heat long sleeves and pants are out (and, sadly, Jem won't even keep a hat on anymore...gosh I miss those cute little hats). So my best choice seemed to be finding a really natural, safe sunscreen. Something specially formulated for kids with a relatively high SPF.  Preferably something I didn't have to spend a fortune on.

I checked out the Environmental Working Group's Best Sunscreen list* and picked one with a very low toxicity (1) because it was readily available on Amazon and contained a lot of natural, even organic ingredients.  Plus, compared to some of the others, it had a great price tag (and it was on sale!)

The one I picked was Loving Naturals.  The ingredients are listed right on their website (also on the EWG list). I couldn't be happier with my choice! It takes a few extra seconds to rub on, since it doesn't quite have the nice glide of your typical sunscreen, but this hasn't caused any irritation of Jem's skin at all. It also has a much milder smell than most sunscreens, which is a plus! It does leave a bit of a whitish-blue tint because it's a bit on the thicker side, though from what understand the company has come out with a new clear version. I don't mind the tint, because Jem's fair skin has not burned once while wearing it, and neither has mine!  Thereby debunking the myth that a sunscreen must be full of chemicals you can't even pronounce in order to be effective.

I urge you all to check out the EWG's list next time you're in the market for a new sunscreen.  If you're still not sure why you should, read their article "Sunscreens Exposed: Nine Surprising Truths."

Keep all that sensitive skin on your little love-muffin safe, and enjoy the sunshine, everyone!

* I apologize for writing "EPA" instead of EWG when I initially posted this last night. On revisiting this morning I caught my own error pretty quickly! I must've been I always mix those two up somehow...

Monday, June 27, 2011

Link List: Green Parenting "Groupon" Type Sites

Hopefully the title of today's post is self-explanatory!  Going green doesn't have to cost a fortune. I have gotten (or been very tempted to get) some great, steeply discounted green products from the following websites:

~ - I just ordered an extremely cute set of stainless steel child's cereal bowls from this site today for 40% off (originally sold at the Life Without Plastic Boutique)... great alternative to plastic bowls.
~ - recent purchases: voucher for Tegu Toys and some new fitted cloth dipes to try

~ - not a completely green site per se but they do feature a ton of eco-friendly and reusable products, especially cloth dipes!
~ - Also not a green site per se, but they're definitely in there. Lots of cloth diapering accessories and such!

More green stuff for everyone, not just the mamas and babies! :-)

I'll post more as I find out about them.  Please feel free to comment with any that you know of!  :-) Happy green bargain hunting!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Link List: US Made Cloth Diapers (updated 7/22/11)

Before I get to the list: I've heard a lot of confusion about Chinese manufacturing and why some people choose to avoid all Chinese manufactured items in favor of US made items. Hopefully I can shed a bit of light on this matter.  First of all, this is NOT a matter of racism.  Nor is it a matter of patriotism (well, perhaps it is a little bit for some people).

The sad fact is that China is known for its sweatshops and for manufacturing plants that churn out shoddy, sometimes even toxic goods for cheap prices.  This is not entirely China's fault...there is only a supply where there is a demand, and there is a HUGE demand for cheap Chinese manufactured goods, particularly in developed nations like the US.  Many US companies that want to give their customers a good deal will turn to China for their manufacturing to keep their own manufacturing costs low, so they can impart their savings to their customers (and, honestly, some companies just want to keep their manufacturing costs low so they can make more money). Some companies will try to keep close tabs on the manufacturers to ensure they are meeting quality control standards, however this is hard to do from overseas and inspections of these companies sometimes only happen once a month or even just a few times a year.  So even if the company means well, the quality of their goods can be pretty hit or miss.  Not to mention that the employees in these places are often paid peanuts in horrible work conditions while the owners make out like bandits.

Of course this doesn't mean that there are no sweatshops or questionable manufacturers in the US.  There are (though there are certainly fewer of them and we have stricter labor laws here).  However, often if a company cares enough to move all of its manufacturing to the US it's so they can keep a closer eye on quality control and fair labor practices.  This is particularly true when it comes to products for are far cheaper and easier to manufacture in China, but are often rife with flaws that can be hazardous to a child's health, like toxic lead paint and choking hazards.

I recently bought a toy from a purportedly "eco-friendly" wooden toy company that manufactures mostly in China, and the toy was a mess when it arrived. I was very disappointed because the toy was such a great concept, and could've been great for Jem, but I was afraid he might hurt himself on it.  I returned it.  Another time I received a rocking toy from Freecycle that was really cute but needed some work...the paint was chipping and the wood on the bottom part was not the best quality.  I contacted the company that made it and was told that the reason the rocking part was in such poor shape was that the company used to manufacture in China and had a hard time keeping an eye on quality control.  After numerous complaints, they moved all manufacturing to the US and updated all of the unfortunately the part I needed to replace was no longer available (the customer service rep I spoke to was very nice and did her best to help me out though).  Fortunately in this case the toy was not unsafe, just a little unsightly at the bottom.

Now I have heard of fair trade companies in China, and many companies claim to have close relationships with their Chinese manufacturers and won't part with them. That is their choice, and may be a perfectly valid one.  In fact, any consumer who chooses to purchase Chinese manufactured goods is perfectly within their rights to do so and I would never judge anyone for doing so!  In this day and age it is nearly impossible to ensure that all the materials in the goods we buy have been produced ethically and with the highest quality. However, as a consumer I personally have made a recent choice to try and avoid items manufactured in China to increase the chances of buying quality, non-toxic items and decrease the chances of contributing to unfair labor practices.  I know others choose US manufactured items to support our economy, and while this is a worthy goal I'll admit supporting fair trade practices and quality products are my main reasons for doing so.

Unfortunately this is not always an easy practice, particularly for moms trying to choose items like say, cloth diapers.  To make this particular task easier for others I am providing the following list of US and Canadian manufactured cloth diapers (gotta give our northern neighbor Canada some love too!)  Please note that I have actually only personally tried two of the diapers on this list.  I do plan to try more of them, and I will review them for you when I do!

~ Knickernappies
~ Mommy's Touch
~ Happy Heinys
~ Blueberry (Fabrics sourced in the US and occasionally Turkey, manufactured in US. We have two of their laundry/wet bags and they're great! Would love to try the diapers eventually!)
~ Swaddlebees
~ Weehuggers
~ Bottombumpers
~ Hiney Lineys (these have a very intriguing design! I'm very curious to try them)
~ Best Bottoms
~ DryBees (I own one of these and I like it...though I'll admit a preference for pocket dipes over all-in-ones)
~ LolliDoos
~ SustainableBabyish wool knits (I have visited their store in person and was impressed by the knowledge and passion of their owner, Erin, though I have yet to work up the courage to try wool dipes!)

~MonkeyDoodlez - manufactured in Canada by WAHMS!

~ BumGenius - diapers sold in the US are manufactured in the US, all others are manufactured in Egypt.  We have several of these and love them, particularly for overnight use.
~ Thirsties - manufacture in the US and I believe Canada (I may be wrong about this, but I do know they do not manufacture in China)

I have also heard that Kissaluvs manufactures mostly in the US, but have been unable to confirm where the rest of their materials are manufactured.

This is not a complete list by any means...I will try to update as I confirm the manufacturing practices of other CD companies!

I will also advise those of you who take this kind of thing seriously to beware of claims like "90% manufactured in the USA." I saw one such claim on the website of an increasingly popular diaper company, however when I asked about this I was told that everything except the diaper covers were US manufactured...the covers themselves were, unsurprisingly, manufactured in China.  Since covers are probably one of the most essential and most popular diapering items, I found this claim to be highly misleading.

Hope this list was helpful to some of you! Good night all!

Wonderworld Toys

In an earlier post I believe I mentioned how much Jem loves his Wonderworld Wooden Stacking Rings.

Well, he still does. At 8 months he loved to bang the rings around and teethe on them, and they are durable enough that they didn't chip or show any signs of wear. Within a month he was taking the rings off the stacker like a pro, and by 10 months he was learning to put them back on.  Now at 14 months he's a pro at this and sometimes I swear he's intentionally putting them back on in creative patterns (okay, these patterns may be coincidental, but proud mama finds them amazing just the same).

I love how well made these rings are, and that they are just the right size for little hands!

What I really love, however, is that Wonderworld toys are a truly eco-friendly company, one of the few toy companies that uses wood from older rubber trees that can no longer produce latex. The company is committed to replanting one tree for every tree they use...this is in addition to those already replanted by the farmers who provide their rubber trees.  They use only high quality, non-toxic, water-based paints in basic primary colors.  They are a fairly small company based in Thailand (no Chinese manufacturing) with only about 500 employees (according to their website), and the literature enclosed with the stacking rings spoke of their commitment to fair wages and working conditions for those employees (sadly I didn't keep this literature for the specifics).  Packaging is minimal and 70% recycled content, and of the three Wonderworld toys we own I don't remember any plastic used in the packaging.

I loved the concept of this company, and since the stacking rings (which he received from his Grandma for Christmas) were such a high quality we bought Jem the Wonderworld Posting House Shape Sorter for his first birthday.  Another great toy!  While he has not advanced enough yet to figure out the shapes on his own, he does like to take the blocks out of the hinged lid and hand them to me so I can position the shapes over the proper hole and let him push them in. I know soon enough he'll be having great fun doing this on his own!

A friend of ours (knowing how much I liked this company) also bought Jem the Wonderworld First Sound Blocks...some of these are bright, durable, colorful blocks in three basic shapes filled with wooden beads to make different rattling sounds when shaken, and the rest are very basic natural wood building blocks. Like the other toys, these are extremely safe, non-toxic and well-sanded.

Overall I am highly impressed with this toy company! Although I am definitely a big supporter of Freecycling and buying secondhand toys whenever possible, I know sometimes you just want some high quality wooden toys in your collection from eco-friendly, ethical companies that will last for generations.  I believe Wonderworld Toys is one such company.  While most of Jem's Freecycled books and toys will be re-Freecycled when he is done with them, these and other favorite wooden toys will be stored for our future children and, most likely, for their children as well!

***All toys reviewed in this post were bought by myself, friends and relatives, and I have not been paid in any way, shape or form for this review.***

Thursday, June 23, 2011

"Mama Cloth" Blossom Pads Review (with discount code)

Note: The following blog post contains a review of a feminine personal hygiene product. If you're the kind of guy (or gal) who gets squeamish about such things, I suggest you mosey on down the page and check out some of my other posts instead, or wait till tomorrow for a new post. :-)


I've been using cloth diapers on Jem since the day after he was born, and so it was only a matter of time before I made the natural transition to using cloth personal products for myself as well. Oh, I could get really adventurous and try, say, the Diva Cup... but never having been a tampon kinda girl to begin with I just personally didn't find that idea too appealing. The challenge for me was finding a product that was not only functional and eco-friendly but also had a low initial cost...let's be honest, some of these products are a bit on the pricey side, and since you do need quite a few of them to get through 5-7 days (or more for some ladies), the initial cost can be as intimidating as the thought of using a non-disposable pad in and of itself. Of course I could make some myself, and do intend to eventually, but since my refurbished sewing machine is still experiencing some technical difficulties I turned to the web.

Many Google searches led me to a great little company called Blossom Pads. They had a special deal on sets of three flannel pads of varying lengths (you can pick your own absorbency for no extra cost), and I easily found a coupon code to defray the cost even further. You just type in your color preferences and let Charlene (the owner) do the rest.

When my custom designed 10 inch pads came in the mail, two things caught my attention: first, minimal packaging. Always a plus for us eco-conscious mamas! Second, they were so pretty!

After using my Blossom Pads, I have to say that I love them! I have found them comfortable and not too bulky, even with the extra absorbency I chose. They hold up extremely well and don't move around a lot. I find I'm able to wear them for several hourse at a time, even overnight, with no issues. They are super easy to clean, just rinse after wearing and throw them in the wash (if you're a cloth diapering mama like me with a diaper sprayer and diaper specific detergents so much the better, but if not just rinse them in the sink and toss them in with your normal wash...this really is not as gross as it might sound). If you need to change them in a public bathroom they also sell nifty, discreet little bags you can keep in your purse which hold in wetness and odors, so you can rinse and wash when you get home.

Overall I am extremely pleased with Blossom Pads and am eager to try more of their products!

If you'd like to try them for yourself, use the code 8AO11 to get 10% off your first order of $15 or more!

***I bought this product myself and have not been paid in any way, shape or form for this review.***

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

DIY "Snack Trap"

I've been getting just a wee bit tired of popping into the backseat to feed Jem snacks every time he gets cranky on car trips, but if I let him feed himself he'll just get his Cheerios everywhere (and then get upset that he can't reach them).  Hence, I've had a want ad up on Freecycle for weeks now, looking for a used Snack Trap.  You know, those little cups with the slotted lid that kids can reach into to grab a Gold Fish cracker or dry cereal without spilling all over the floor.  So far, no luck.  I searched Amazon and Ebay to see if anyone was selling one used.  Nadda.  Since I have a very hard time justifying any brand new plastic purchase to myself these days, I decided to see if I could just make one myself, using stuff we already had around the house.

A Google search turned up one interesting result. One mom made something similar to the Munchie Mug by stretching a couple of pieces of stretchy fabric over the top of a cup and securing it with a rubber band.  Great idea, but I saw two problems with it: 1) Jem would figure out how to remove that fabric and rubber band in two seconds flat and 2) the rubber band would then become a choking hazard.  It did give me a great idea though.  I thought I could use the same kind of method with a mason jar ring instead of a rubber band.  Unfortunately I couldn't find any plastic containers around the house that fit my mason jar rings, and I didn't think it would be a good idea to hand my 14 month old an actual mason jar.

The only other things I had that might work were wide mouth baby bottles.  We use Pura stainless steel bottles, but since we only have three and we're still using them to transition Jem to a sippy (the nipples can be interchanged with Avent sippy spouts) I decided instead to use the lonely plastic Avent Magic sippy cup someone gave us that we never use. I should have Freecycled it away by now, but since I didn't I figured I'd give it a shot!

My biggest concern was that the hole at the top might be too small for Jem to fit his hand into, and it is. Luckily he's a pretty smart little kid and figured out how to get the Cheerios out by tipping the cup and using just his second and third fingers to fish them out. I figure anything that forces him to use his brain and develop fine motor skills is a plus!  So overall, it's been a big success and a big hit!

This is how I did it:


~ 1 small wide mouth bottle, plastic or stainless steel (can also use a plastic container with a mason jar ring if you can find one that works!)
~ 2 pieces of stretchy fabric big enough to fit over the mouth of the bottle (I cut up an old bathing suit top that didn't have a bottom)
~ A knife or pair of scissors

1) Fill the cup with dry snack pieces. Jem loves his Cheerios (well, we buy an organic version).

2) Using the knife or scissors, cut a small slit into the center of each piece of fabric.

3) Place one fabric piece over the other with the slits criss-crossing and place over the mouth of the cup.

4) Screw the ring back onto the bottle over the fabric, being very careful not to overstretch the fabric or the slits will become too wide and the snack pieces will fall out when tipped.  You might have to play with this a little.

You now have your very own Snack-Trap-Catcher-Munchie-Mug-thingamajig!  Hold it upside down to make sure the pieces don't fall out. Some will likely fall out of you give it a good shake, which is okay.  This is just to contain the worst of the messes!

Give it to your child and see what he or she does with it. It might take a couple of minutes for them to figure it out. You may have to help them.  Once they get the hang of it, hopefully your car rides and snack times will be just a little more peaceful too! :-)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

"Green Giveaway Roundup"

Tonight I was going to post all about the DIY "snack trap" I made for Jem today, but I realized the camera needs to be charged.  So I shall post tomorrow.  For now I'll just leave you the link for one of my favorite things, "The Green Giveaway Roundup" hosted by Diaper Junction's Cloth Diaper Blog!

Good night all!  And good luck winning some "green!"

Monday, June 20, 2011

Cloth Diaper sale!

EcoBabyBuys Diaper Sale

I haven't tried these diapers (though I just might!), but I'm intrigued by the design and like that they're made in the US. Note that the inserts must be bought separately. Still, the math comes out to around $16 for each completed diaper if you buy the pockets plus the inserts. Which is about average for a pocket dipe!

Friday, June 17, 2011

DIY Peg Dolls!

Since my baby showers, I had been saving scraps of ribbon and other trim from gift boxes and such. Some of it I had reused for gifting, but most of it stayed in a box in our bedroom, slowly piling up.  I decided I was going to use it for a fun project.  I just had to find that project!

It came to me whilst surfing Etsy for a wooden birthday toy for Jem a couple of months ago. I stumbled upon several collections of peg dolls from various sellers.  Yes, peg dolls, those little wooden do-it-yourself dolls somewhere between a clothespin doll and a retro Fisher Price Little People figure (I know you remember those).  What a fun and perfect project!  Easter was coming, and though peg dolls are still potential choking hazards for Jem, I decided to fill the Easter baskets of my four-year-old twin nieces with princess peg dolls.  (They've been in the princess phase since about age two with no end in sight!) This was a particularly fitting project since we had just given them a Melissa and Doug deluxe folding wooden princess castle for their birthday.  The peg people would be a perfect fit.  I bought a whole bunch of unpainted female figures (and a few males for princes and Peter Pan) for around $8, including shipping.

When they came I was so excited to have a truly crafty, girly project to work on I almost peed myself.  But I didn't.  Instead I whipped out my supplies and got to work, having a great deal of fun during Jem's naps (and during those rare times when he actually sits and plays quietly with his toys).

SUPPLIES (all of which, except for the peg people themselves, I already had handy)

~ Wooden peg people
~ Ribbon scraps, felt scraps, silk flower petals, curtain trim, an unmatched black sock, other various odds and ends (recycling and creativity are the names of the game! Yes, apparently the game has two names.)
~ A needle and various colors of thread
~ Non-toxic Craft Glue (I used Aleene's tacky)
~ Non-toxic glitter paint
~ A fine-point sharpie for the faces (not non-toxic, but I didn't think the girls would be putting these in their mouths)

Here are my accomplishments.  Look familiar?

Little Tinker Bell did end up looking rather like a demonic version of Mimi from the Drew Carey Show, but I was quite happy with the rest of them.  I think I had the most fun with the hair. For all the black hair I used pieces of the unmatched sock, and for the curly hair I unwound bits of the curtain trim I used to decorate our Christmas stockings!

I had so much fun making these and get a huge kick out of hearing how the girls are enjoying them.  My finishing touch was to make two little twin girl figures and a baby Jem figure (sadly I didn't take pics of those). They got a big kick out of them!  I can't wait till I save up enough scraps to make more!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Happy Thursday!

Trying out this Technorati thing... let's see what happens! :-)


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

DIY Furniture Polish, Soap, and Toothpaste

Recently I decided that it was time to start phasing out products in our home with unnecessary chemical additives.  We've already been cleaning the counters, bathrooms and carpets with vinegar and baking soda, with great success.  I've got a big bag of cleaners that we haven't used in over a year which I fetched from under the sink, all ready to go out to another Freecycler.

However, I realized that without that bottle of Pledge, the beautiful China cabinet we got from Freecycle wasn't gonna start lookin' any younger.  So I set out to figure out what could be used as a natural wood polish.  After reading several articles online about this topic, I decided to go with a mix of equal parts distilled white vinegar, lemon juice and olive oil.  I put it all in a clean glass molasses bottle and shook vigorously. After wiping the china cabinet down with a microfiber cleaning mitt, I poured a small amount of the mix onto the other side of the mitt and rewiped. The cabinet looks shiny and bright, but not greasy.  I don't know how long the mixture will last under the sink before the olive oil goes rancid, but I guess we'll see!

My next project was making my own soap.  Not my own bar soap: I'm not that ambitious yet, and I'm a bit leary about doing anything in my kitchen that requires gloves and goggles with the baby around.  I did, however, order two lbs (8 bars) of very natural, very clear soap from a lady on ebay for about $10.  I've been using one bar in the shower and I like it, it's so slippery!  Does leave my skin feeling just a tad dryer than I'm used to afterward, but only for a minute or so...the natural glycerin in it does help retain moisture. 

My project was making the bar soap into liquid soap.  I kept reading that I needed to use a gallon of water for one bar of grated bar soap.  Heat the water to steaming, not boiling, add the soap, stir (or blend with a hand mixer), let sit overnight.  Then stir/blend again, let sit for awhile longer, stir blend again... and you have liquid soap.

Well, apparently the 1 gallon of water was too much for this particular bar of soap.  I kept having to reheat the mixture to steam more of the water out, because the soap was not getting thick.  Finally, after two days of periodic steaming and mixing, I reached a consistency I could live with, and poured some into the bathroom soap dispenser and the rest into a clean gallon vinegar jug.  I had decided not to add any fragrance or essential oils, but now I'm thinking I might.  Natural liquid soap, it seems, has a mild yet distinct, not entirely pleasant smell (for some reason I don't notice this smell with the bar soap, but I do remember the bar soap from high school chemistry classes smelling similar).  I'm not sure what to add though.  I hate floral scents, especially on Jem or myself, and don't want to use anything that could irritate his sensitive skin.  Anyway, the liquid soap is largely a success, but not perfect.  Next time I'll use half a gallon of water and adjust as needed.  It works pretty well as a handsoap and as a baby soap for Jem, but I can't wash his hair with it like I could with his other baby soap.  At least not easily.  I have, however, recently discovered that some people wash their hair using nothing but baking soda and water.  Next experiment...? Probably wouldn't work for my finicky hair, but for Jem's super-fine baby hair and Chris's straight thick hair it just might.

Today's project was making toothpaste.  I found all kinds of recipes to do this online, none of which I decided to use.  I had my heart set on using both baking soda and xylitol, two excellent natural dental cleansers, but couldn't find a recipe that used both.  So I decided to wing it.  I started out stirring together about half a cup of baking soda and half a cup of powdered xylitol with several tablespoons of water and a tiny bit of peppermint extract.  Apparently this was too much water and too much baking soda, because what I ended up with was a very runny, mildly pepperminty salt solution.  So I added more xylitol... and more... and more... until I went through the entire 1 lb bag.  So I ended up with a lot of toothpaste, but that's okay.  The problem was that the texture turned out kind of weird... the baking soda/xylitol mix kept clumping up at the bottom and was all watery at the top.  I went out on a limb and followed the advice of one of the other recipes I had looked at and added about a tablespoon of melted coconut oil.  Mix mix mix, stir stir stir... Finally I had a nice looking, and tasting, baking soda toothpaste.  I tried it out immediately and it worked great!  I mean we'll see how it's working six months from now, but for now I'm happy with it.  A few hours after I put it in the bottle (a clean Thayer's witch hazel bottle) I did notice that it started to look kind of liquidy again... I wonder if that has something to do with the heat in our apartment re-melting the coconut oil.  (See updated recipe below!) Anyway, once again I guess the moral of the story is use far less liquid than you think you'll need and add more as needed. Still, I'm happy with my toothpaste!

And with my soap...

...and with my furniture polish.  I feel thrifty, resourceful and quite crunchy.  Best of all, I know I'm introducing fewer potentially harmful chemicals into my home, and I feel good about that!

Recipes (these are mostly approximations and may need improvement.  I'll be sure to update with further experimentation!):

Furniture Polish:

Equal parts white distilled vinegar, lemon juice and olive oil.  Store in a clean bottle in a cool place.  Check for oil spoilage and shake well before each use. Apply small amount to preferred cloth or sponge and wipe down wooden furniture thoroughly.

Liquid Soap: UPDATED

1 grated bar (about 4.5 oz or so) all natural clear glycerin soap base (I buy mine in bulk on ebay)
JUST UNDER a half gallon (2 quarts) water
Several drops of your favorite essential oil or fragrance (optional)

In a large pot, heat water till steaming and add grated soap. Remove from heat and stir well. Cover.  Let sit several hours or overnight. It should be a thick, gelatinous consistency. Whip by hand with a wire whisk until it is a pourable consistency.   Very carefully pour into clean bottles, using a funnel if you have one handy (I keep my soap in an empty half gallon SoftSoap container).  Store in a cool place.

Using this updated formula, I can now use this soap as baby shampoo for Jem as well! It lathers great!

Toothpaste (bulk recipe... adjust as needed) - UPDATED

1/2 cup baking soda
1 lb xylitol, powdered (I used my blender to powder)
1-2 Tbsp coconut oil
Peppermint or cinnamon extract (optional)
Water or hydrogen peroxide (use sparingly...optional)

In large bowl, sift together powdered xylitol and baking soda. Mix in coconut oil a tablespoon at a time to achieve pasty consistency, and add several drops of flavoring (optional). If you're having trouble getting the consistency right add water or hydrogen peroxide half a teaspoon at a time. Don't overdo it, remember oil and water don't mix well, and water doesn't absorb xylitol the way it does sugar.  
Store in c
lean container in a cool place.  May be suitable in pea sized amounts for children, but large doses of xylitol may cause tummy troubles.  Please keep away from dogs, xylitol is more toxic to them than even chocolate.